Sheffield United's manager Kevin Blackwell, centre, reacts following a failed strike on goal during a Championship match against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Sheffield United's manager Kevin Blackwell, centre, reacts following a failed strike on goal during a Championship match against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

A shot at the big time



Football can be such a lonely place when things do not turn out favourably. Kevin Blackwell felt such utter devastation the last time he led a team to the Championship play-off final that he compared it to the feeling when you lose a loved one. It was three years ago when Leeds United were denied a return to the Premier League, well-beaten 3-0 by Watford at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Ten games into the next season, he was dismissed from his Elland Road post.

It was a difficult road back, taking charge of financially-crippled Luton before the challenge of bringing Sheffield United back into the top flight after their relegation in 2007. When the Blades face Burnley today for the £60 million (Dh350m) prize of being in the Premier League, Blackwell is desperately hoping his seventh play-off final as a player, coach and manager will provide happier memories. "There was such an empty feeling after that defeat with Leeds, it's hard to describe," he says.

"My mum died and I know how low I was then. This was a feeling that can't be the same as that, but it was devastating. "You question everything that you did, you replay the build up, the team selection, the tactics. You just question everything. "Time recovers you. What picked me up? I suppose having to prove I could do it all again. I have had some hard times in my management career, but the knock backs do drive you on.

"Leaving Leeds in the manner that I did was the lowest point in my career. Many people rang me afterwards and said I'd been harshly treated. "Yes it hurt and I had to deal with what happened, but it made me a stronger person. To earn the right to be successful you have to graft, dig deep, and I do. You have to know what it is to make you successful. What are the pains and pitfalls? Believe me, if it's given to you on a plate, when times get tough, you won't know how to get out of it.

"I look back at that play-off final with Leeds and realise I'd taken a big club to the biggest, wealthiest game in the world. That takes some achieving. I lost my job, but I felt that if I did that there, I could do it again. Now I have." Blackwell has no doubt the Premier League is the place to prove his worth, despite the fact that newly-promoted clubs - such as West Brom this season - often make an immediate return to the Championship.

Some critics suggest it might be better to be a solid side in a lower league than to endure a season of struggle among the top teams. It is not a philosophy shared by Blackwell, who added: "I'd swap with them. I know exactly what people are on about when they say that, and winning is great, but you have to put yourself on the line. "In every walk of life whether it is selling cars or being a leader of industry, you have got to want to be the best.

"If you want to be the best in football you have to get into the Premier League, it's as simple as that. "People watch it all around the world. My brother-in-law works in Dubai and it's massive there. "Whether you win every week, that would dictate on finances, player recruitment and your tactics, but you have to find that out. I'm desperate to do it and this club is desperate to be there." akhan@thenational.ae

Sheffield United v Burnley, KO 6pm, Showsports 2

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

RESULTS

5pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (Turf) 2,200m
Winner: RB Sarab, Allaia Tiar (jockey), Khalifa Al Neyadi (trainer)

5.30pm: Mamsha Alkhair – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: Mutaqadim, Ray Dawson, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

6pm: Emirates Fillies Classic – Prestige (PA) Dh100,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: Almotajalliah, Ray Dawson, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

6.30pm: Emirates Colts Classic – Prestige (PA) Dh100,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: Fadwaan, Antonio Fresu, Ahmed Al Mehairbi

7pm: The President’s Cup – Group 1 (PA) Dh2,500,000 (T) 2,200m
Winner: Mujeeb, Richard Mullen, Salem Al Ketbi

7.30pm: The President’s Cup – Listed (TB) Dh380,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: Western Writer, Richard Mullen, Bhupat Seemar

Types of policy

Term life insurance: this is the cheapest and most-popular form of life cover. You pay a regular monthly premium for a pre-agreed period, typically anything between five and 25 years, or possibly longer. If you die within that time, the policy will pay a cash lump sum, which is typically tax-free even outside the UAE. If you die after the policy ends, you do not get anything in return. There is no cash-in value at any time. Once you stop paying premiums, cover stops.

Whole-of-life insurance: as its name suggests, this type of life cover is designed to run for the rest of your life. You pay regular monthly premiums and in return, get a guaranteed cash lump sum whenever you die. As a result, premiums are typically much higher than one term life insurance, although they do not usually increase with age. In some cases, you have to keep up premiums for as long as you live, although there may be a cut-off period, say, at age 80 but it can go as high as 95. There are penalties if you don’t last the course and you may get a lot less than you paid in.

Critical illness cover: this pays a cash lump sum if you suffer from a serious illness such as cancer, heart disease or stroke. Some policies cover as many as 50 different illnesses, although cancer triggers by far the most claims. The payout is designed to cover major financial responsibilities such as a mortgage or children’s education fees if you fall ill and are unable to work. It is cost effective to combine it with life insurance, with the policy paying out once if you either die or suffer a serious illness.

Income protection: this pays a replacement income if you fall ill and are unable to continue working. On the best policies, this will continue either until you recover, or reach retirement age. Unlike critical illness cover, policies will typically pay out for stress and musculoskeletal problems such as back trouble.

THE SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Power: 110 horsepower

Torque: 147Nm

Price: From Dh59,700

On sale: now

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

World Cup final

Who: France v Croatia
When: Sunday, July 15, 7pm (UAE)
TV: Game will be shown live on BeIN Sports for viewers in the Mena region

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Vault
Started: June 2023
Co-founders: Bilal Abou-Diab and Sami Abdul Hadi
Based: Abu Dhabi
Licensed by: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Industry: Investment and wealth advisory
Funding: $1 million
Investors: Outliers VC and angel investors
Number of employees: 14

Company Profile

Name: Raha
Started: 2022
Based: Kuwait/Saudi
Industry: Tech Logistics
Funding: $14 million
Investors: Soor Capital, eWTP Arabia Capital, Aujan Enterprises, Nox Management, Cedar Mundi Ventures
Number of employees: 166

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

SPECS

Nissan 370z Nismo

Engine: 3.7-litre V6

Transmission: seven-speed automatic

Power: 363hp

Torque: 560Nm

Price: Dh184,500

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid

When: April 25, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Allianz Arena, Munich
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 1, Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid

THE SPECS

Engine: AMG-enhanced 3.0L inline-6 turbo with EQ Boost and electric auxiliary compressor

Transmission: nine-speed automatic

Power: 429hp

Torque: 520Nm​​​​​​​

Price: Dh360,200 (starting)

Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway

Director: Ashima Chibber 

Stars: Rani Mukerji, Anirban Bhattacharya and Jim Sarbh 

Rating: 2/5

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Things Heard & Seen

Directed by: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, James Norton

2/5

BIO

Favourite holiday destination: Turkey - because the government look after animals so well there.

Favourite film: I love scary movies. I have so many favourites but The Ring stands out.

Favourite book: The Lord of the Rings. I didn’t like the movies but I loved the books.

Favourite colour: Black.

Favourite music: Hard rock. I actually also perform as a rock DJ in Dubai.

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone


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